Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ohio Web Leaders Diggs Into Google, Cuil and How Search is Changing

Mad props to Bill Balderaz and Amy Marshall of Webbed Marketing for their presentation this morning at the OWL breakfast seminar. I've attended two events for this recently formed group and I've left both times with new perspectives, new connections and very applicable information. If you're in the internet technology game, or even a client-side marketer who is trying to leverage online channels for your company, or simply just someone who is interested interested in emerging internet technology - these events are definitely worth your time.

Among topics covered today:

  • Final negotiations for Google's pending acquisition of popular bookmarking site Digg, and how this may effect the Search industry

  • The low down on the new search engine Cuil (pronounced "cool") and where it is heading

  • Yahoo and MSN to potentially join forces (Bill asked, would you call that Mahoo?)

  • A features profile of the newly launched Wikia Search

  • Google Suggest - Google's new intelligent search feature and the potentially associated privacy issues with user profiling
I don't want to steal OWL's content so this is just a tease. If these topics look interesting, think about registering for the next OWL event to join the discussion.

But, I do have some opinions on Google and Digg potentially joining forces:

First off, this merger could be BIG. Obviously, Google's a monster dominating over 70% of daily search queries. So why would this power house have interest in purchasing a social bookmarking service?

The Business Angle
With more than 1 million registered users (and I'm one of them), Digg draws traffic from the influencers. Users take great pride in their ability to find and rate content, and then have that content validated as relevant by other users. These are the mavens and typically the early adopters of new technology as well.

The company currently operates on a skeleton crew of less than 25 employees and partners with Microsoft to generate a majority of it's current revenue. From a funding perspective, Digg has called on VC firms for a meager total of $11 million on startup capital.

Compared to LinkedIn's numbers at 310 employees and four rounds of investment funding valued at over $1 Billion , and you get the picture pretty quick. All around low baggage with a significant adoption equates to a very attractive buy for Google.

Changing the Game
Enter the Semantic Web. Personally, I don't quite think anyone fully has their head around this concept just yet, but Google merging with Digg, in my opinion, brings us one step closer to realizing the end user benefits of web 3.0.

In the past few months, so many "Semantic" Search engines have popped up. Cuil and True Knowledge Beta are just a few I've played with, and thus far have received lack luster search results.

Here's the challenge with startup semantic SE's. First, they havn't nailed the technology yet. Cuil saw a huge spike in initial post launch traffic last month, only to see limited results in return visitors. Users were not impressed enough with the search results to use the service on a regular basis. Second, these concepts represent a new way of thinking about the internet as a platform. Unfortunately, the majority of us humans aren't easily open to change.

So why will the Google / Digg marriage move the semantic web progression forward? I think the answer is fairly simple. The existing critical mass of each of theses services will help to eliminate potential barriers and quickly increase wide spread adoption.
  • Comfort - A significant numbers users are already familiar with Google's interface. The same goes for Digg users.
  • Brand - Large amounts of users already have established trust in both sites
  • Convenience - Google users are accustom to new add-ons for their personal Google homepage. Integrating Digg in the Google interface makes it easy to promote the service and for users to jump on board
Again, Digg has a strong foothold with the mavens. Google has a strong foot hold with - well, just about everyone. Take Diggs ability to deliver relevant peer rated content and combine it with Googles advanced ability to behaviorally targeting users' preferences, and you may have a home run.

What Does this mean for SEO's? You're guess is as good as mine, and I would love to hear your comments on this issue.

One things is for sure - as this merger unfolds, the way we search for content on the web could see some serious changes. SEO's who don't pay close attention will be left in the dust.

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